KLAY Community Conversations
District Representative: Lori McStay and Linda Krininger
Lori McStay is executive director for human resources for Clover Park School District. She leads the human resources and payroll operations for the district including labor relations and negotiations, strategic human resource planning, talent management, compensation management, benefit administration, and performance management to provide the district with the best talent available and to position the district as an employer of choice.
Linda Krininger is the director for human resources for Clover Park School District. Linda works with the executive director on labor relations and negotiations, strategic human resource planning, compensation management and recruitment for the district.
Topics: Employee Retention and Recruitment
- We hear a lot about a teacher shortage. What can you tell us about it as it relates to Clover Park School District?
It’s very real…we are experiencing some challenges right now along with other school districts across the state and nation. The supply of teachers has been greatly affected by the high number of early to mid-career turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in college students opting for a teaching career.
At the same time, many factors are increasing the demand for teachers, including shrinking class sizes, the desire to improve diversity, and the need to meet high standards. In short, the demand for teachers is escalating, while simultaneously the supply of teachers is faltering.
The supply of teachers is diminishing at every stage of the career ladder. On the front end, fewer college students are entering the profession. Generally speaking, the small fraction of college students who elect to become teachers has declined for decades. This is partly due to compensation issues relative to teacher pay—that is, teacher pay compared with the pay of other career opportunities for potential and current teachers. Also, rigorous national standards and state accountability for student performance have raised the standard for talented teachers over the years.
On the back end, teachers are retiring along with the workforce overall. As teachers retire, they are replaced by new teachers, and the high attrition rate among this group is a particularly critical issue as they have more options to choose from.
It’s not just teachers either…we need school nurses, bus drivers and para educators. We have all kinds of openings!
- What are the impacts to schools and classrooms?
An effective teacher is the most important school-based element for positive education outcomes. Therefore, it is crucial that we recruit and retain high-quality teachers. When we can’t fill a position, it truly impacts the whole school as current staff needs to fill-in the gaps.
- What strategies is Clover Park School District using to recruit new staff?
One of the school board’s five goals is to improve staff retention, recruitment and professional development.
In the area of recruitment, the district has close ties with several local university teacher certification programs including UW-Tacoma, Pacific Lutheran University, St. Martin’s, Evergreen, City University, Western Washington University, and Pierce College.
Our student teacher program is another recruitment strategy. We continue to increase the number of mentor or veteran teachers to expand our student teacher placement program.
Another strategy we are using is to partner with PLU and Pierce on alternative routes to certification programs, otherwise known as ARC. These programs allow candidates to earn their teacher certification while they are actually teaching during the school day. They go to college for their certification in the evenings or weekends. We have several candidates currently participating in PLU’s program. We consider these programs as “Grow Your Own” types of programs. The candidates come into the program with bachelor’s degrees or emergency teacher certification and classroom experience. This year, we hired 20 ARC teachers.
We also had district representatives attend and recruit at more than 35 recruitment events and the board has authorized us to offer contracts earlier, so when we have a really strong candidate, we can offer the candidate a contract right on the spot.
And, don’t forget…we’re talking about our need for new teachers on KLAY! :)
- What kinds of support do new employees/teachers receive to be successful teachers?
New teachers participate in our New Educator Orientation, which is a week-long program to introduce them to the district curriculum and systems before school starts.
During the school year, all teachers in their first two years receive support from our Beginning Educator Support Team or BEST. Each new teacher is assigned a mentor who works with them weekly for up to an hour.
Mentors support new teachers with classroom management strategies, reviewing student assessment data and district-supported instructional strategies.
We also offer monthly roundtables and opportunities for new teachers to observe other master teachers to pick up successful classroom teaching strategies.
- What are some other ways Clover Park School District is attracting employees?
Clover Park School District is in the top third in salary and benefits of the nine districts we compare ourselves to …having similar student enrollment and demographics.
Several of our schools are considered Title I-eligible, which allows teachers to obtain loan forgiveness on their college loans.
We’ve already talked about our BEST program - we also have strong professional learning communities in each of our schools and very supportive professional development programs for all of our teachers.
Another real asset is the support we provide for teachers who are pursuing their National Board Certification. The process for certification is very rigorous and we provide a lot of support for teachers trying to achieve certification. We currently have 97 National Board Certified teachers working in Clover Park School District.
Another reason candidates choose Clover Park School District is to work with a diverse population of students. And, candidates look for school districts that have very supportive communities – Clover Park is one of those districts.
- If someone is interested in working for Clover Park School District, how do they go about that?
Our website is a great resource. All of our current openings are posted and applications can be submitted online. Applying to be a substitute is a great way to find out if this type of work is a good match for you.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
We’d just like to reiterate that Clover Park School District is a great place to work. The Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord communities strongly support our schools and we are very fortunate to have that support.
Our students are great and we are working together to create promising futures for them.
Listen to previous Community Conversations